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The Dignity of Human Life: Challenges and Progress Today

Jeffrey Bruno

Fr. Frank Pavone - published on 09/30/13

This, in fact, points to an overall strategy, whether for the general public, the Churches, the courts or the legislators, namely, that we have to re-frame the abortion debate and move it from a supposed conflict between a mother and her unborn child to a conflict between the family on one side — mother, father, and children together — and an unscrupulous, unregulated abortion industry and its abortionists on the other.

Laws that require informed consent, parental involvement, waiting periods, and clinic regulations accomplish this re-framing, because they embrace the interests of the mother and indeed the family, and point out the ways that the abortion industry threatens those interests.

In fact, at the heart of this approach is the question of whether abortion is medicine at all. Dr. Philip Ney points out,

"The practice of good medicine entails performing only those procedures, which are:

i) Indicated. There must be something wrong; some recognized disease to warrant doing this treatment.

ii) Beneficial. There must be scientifically established benefits in the long run of the patient’s life.

iii) Free of harm. There are very few procedures that don’t have some detriment. Most are temporary and borne well by patients who foresee the benefit.

iv) The last resort. Every form of less invasive, more reversible treatments must be seriously tried and have failed first."

(Abortion, Conscience Clauses, And the Practice of Medicine,, December 2, 2010)

He mentions six other criteria as well, and then goes on to observe, "The current practice of abortion, meets none of these criteria. It is bad medicine or more accurately is not medicine." He sums it up by saying, "Women choosing to have an abortion are not patients because: pregnancy is not an illness, their choice is not an indication for treatment, their distress is not a disease."

The way in which court decisions like Roe v. Wade portray abortion, as inherently a medical decision made between the woman and her physician, is completely devoid of reality. In fact, her physician has nothing to do with it, the reasons are not medical, and the abortion clinics tend to be the an unregulated industry treating women in abusive ways. As I always say, you can’t practice vice virtuously. If your conscience is so seared that you can justify running a child-killing business, then you can justify falsifying medical records, committing financial improprieties, failing to sterilize equipment, allowing unsanitary conditions, engaging in sexual abuse of patients, and much more.

We have been pointing out these abuses for decades, and the recent trial of Kermit Gosnell brought these abuses to the forefront of the public’s attention. On display in the courtroom were the filthy curettes, the dirty oxygen mask, and the ultrasound equipment so outdated that medical technicians brought into the courtroom did not know how to use it.

This case has bolstered our efforts on several fronts.

First, we have to enforce existing clinic regulation laws. In the case of Gosnell, no officials from the state set foot in his clinic for seventeen years. Abuses could have been stopped much sooner if they had. In numerous other cases, we have had abortion clinics closed and abortionists put in jail by teaching people — including clinic workers themselves — how to look for the signs of illegal activity, report it to the medical boards and state health departments, and demand enforcement of existing laws. Abortion may be legal, but malpractice is not, and nor are countless other abuses.

Second, where clinic regulation laws do not exist, they need to be introduced and passed. Even people who consider themselves ‘pro-choice’ presume that there is emergency medical equipment on hand in abortion clinics, that those who administer anesthesia are qualified to do so, and that an abortion is performed only when the woman is actually pregnant. Yet these presumptions are contradicted regularly by the cases we uncover.

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Practicing Mercy
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